Monday, August 03, 2015

Sign Her Up Coach! Caroline Wozniacki Can Throw a Strike


Folks... I think we got a glimpse at the Dodgers next free agent signing. 

Yesterday afternoon, tennis pro Caroline Wozniacki, tossed the ceremonial first pitch prior to the game, and absolutely wowed the fans.  She confidently strolled up the mound, took her place on the rubber and tossed an Eephus-styled pitch right down the middle for a strike. 

Wozniacki is currently ranked in the top-5 in tennis and a proven champion, so her athletic skills are no surprise.  Still, we've seen so many stars make this attempt and fail. 

Watch her make her pitch and read out "It's Time for Dodger Baseball" to the fans below.

Video Link:

(Pic via @Dodgers on twitter)

(Pic via @Dodgers on twitter)

Best yet, when she headed out of town later that day she proudly wore her Dodger Blue jersey, as evidenced by the pic she tweeted out below.
(pic via ‏@CaroWozniacki on twitter)

*Photo at the very top via @SI_Tennis on twitter.

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Puig Now Has His Own SportsCenter Commercial


Yasiel Puig joins a list of sports greats today.  Released just this morning is his very own ESPN SportsCenter commercial.  Watch it below.
Yasiel Puig doesn’t only have walkup music during home games, he also has it during staff meetings. Stan Verrett follows suit.

Video Link:

He joins a long list of athletes - and even pop culture stars - to record a little ditty for the network.  Go here to see a long list of past commercials.

Other Dodger players to film a commercial for ESPN include Andre Ethier and Clayton Kershaw.  You can watch both of those below.

Andre Ethier

Video Link:

Clayton Kershaw

Video Link:

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Blog Kiosk: 8/3/2015 - Dodger Links - Ethier, Kershaw and Latos


Such young minds to mold.  Orel Hershiser poses with members of the Jr. Dodgers Broadcasters in the dugout at Dodger Stadium yesterday.  I'm not all that familiar with this youth program.  From what I understand, the Dodgers take several kids under their wing to mentor them on the fine art of sports reporting and broadcasting.  They do player interviews, report the news, and do play-by-play action of every 2015 regular season Sunday home game.

Sounds like fun, eh?  Who knows?  Maybe the heir apparent to Vin Scully is being molded as we speak.  Go here for more information about this program.

Photo above via Jon SooHoo/LA Dodgers 2015.  Below are some links to check out:
"It was the right time today to put us over the top," Ethier said. "There's not too many times in baseball where you get to take the last shot, and that was one of those opportunities."
"He seemed a little bit rusty, honestly, early. Just command-wise," manager Don Mattingly said, blaming Kershaw's layoff. "It had been eight days since he pitched, but he got better as the game went on. His pitch count was up early, but he got it in line."
...
"It's crazy what two or three days off will do," Kershaw said. "I don't like days off, apparently. ... If I know they're coming I can deal with it, but this was a little bit different. Overall it worked out.
"You don't see any fear in him at all," said manager Don Mattingly. "He's attacking guys, whether it's Trout or Pujols."
Friday, the Red Sox restarted the movement that went viral a year ago, and they challenged the Dodgers to follow suit. So Yasiel Puig and Enrique Hernandez stepped up Saturday and were doused in ice.
Watch it here.
  • Via Ron Cervenka at Think Blue LA, "Institute for Baseball Studies receives Negro Leagues memorabilia donation."
  • I'd like to extend a hearty Blue Heaven congratulations to former Dodgers Rafael Furcal.  Following on Fernando Valenzuela, Furcal became a US citizen last week, via a tweet from Yvonne Carrasco.

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Saturday, August 01, 2015

Blog Kiosk: 8/1/2015 - Dodger Links - Greinke, Wood and Farhan Zaidi


Fantastic!

Not only is the photo above, via Jon SooHoo/LA Dodgers 2015 from yesterday's game, phenomenal but the pitcher on the mound last night was just as good.  Zack Greinke went eight strong innings, and if not for the exploits of the games best hitter, Mike Trout, he might have gone all the way.  Damn that Trout.  He's a tough out against even nasty pitches.  Via Mark Saxon at ESPN:
Greinke threw a tight 2-and-2 slider to Trout that broke sharply just as it crossed the plate and dove away from Trout, who somehow hit it off his shoe tops for a line drive into left-center field.

“So, that was pretty impressive,” Greinke said later.
Trout ended up with a run scoring triple and single against Grinke before hitting his 32nd home run of the season against Kenley Jansen in the 9th inning. 

Below are some links to check out:
“I heard the speculation that there were things going on. One way or other, we ended up getting solid word that probably wouldn’t be the case,” Wood said. “I was excited. I told my agent if I ever reached free agency, this is the one place I’d want to play. It’s funny how things work out.”
“There’s a tradeoff between talent and taking on money when you can. In our situation, with our directive to build up our farm system, to the point where we can operate at a level of sustainability … there are times when it makes sense to substitute cash for players.”
  • Well, that was fast.  Michael Morse, who we got from the Marlins the other day, has been traded to the Pirates for Jose Tabata.  Tabata was promptly sent to AAA.  Dustin Nosler at Dodgers Digest writes a bit about it here: "Dodgers make minor move as trade deadline passes."
  • Via Eric Stephen at True Blue LA, "Brewers claim Preston Guilmet off waivers from Dodgers."
  • Blue Skinny Fan got Scott Van Slyke's signature at Fod4Less recently and has photos to prove it, here.
  • Jason Bateman is a great Dodger fan.  He recently appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live and spoke a bit about his love for the team and how he once pissed off the DBack's mascot.  (Hat Tip: r/DontDoDrugsDingus on reddit)

Video Link:

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Friday, July 31, 2015

Bring in the Clown - A LA Dodger "Bums" Sculpture by Ron Lee


It's been awhile since I've shared any unique Dodgers' finds I've come across on eBay, so I figured I'd get back into the grove by sharing something a little fun.  Featured here is an eight inch painted solid bronze sculpture by an Southern California artist named Ron Lee found on eBay. (check out his website here)  He is noted for creating numerous clown based statues, and one of them features what looks like an LA Dodgers "Bum" on the pitching mound.

The left-handed pitcher is not wearing an actual Dodger uniform (I'm sure copyright issues prevented that), but it's clear to me that this little fellow is supposed to be a Dodger.  On his cap is "LA Bums," a clear reference to Emmett Kelly's Brooklyn Dodger "Bum" depiction, and on his back is the number 53 (likely for Dodger Hall of Famer Don Drysdale).  Strangely, the name on his back is "Lefty," and as we all know Drysdale was a right-hander.  BTW, the statue weight 10 lbs!

According to the seller this statue is a part of Ron Lee's Emmett Kelly Jr. collection.  In 2002 Ron Lee received a license from Emmett Kelly Jr. to depict him on limited edition statues.  As you may know, Emmett Kelly Jr. is the son of the great Emmett Kelly that used to grace Ebbets Field in the 1940's and 1950's.  He followed his father's footsteps and became just as famous.  Unfortunately, I don't think this is a part of those works by Lee.  The seller states that this statue was produced in 1987 - many years before Lee's license with Kelly Jr.

I have no idea what something like this is worth, but I do know I would never pay the over $3K asking the price the seller is seeking.  That just seems steep.  Way too steep.

What I do know is that I would love to add something like this to my collection. 

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* Dodgers Blue Heaven home page *

2015 Panini Cooperstown - All the Dodger Insert Cards

Now that you've seen the base cards take a look at the Dodger inserts that are available in packs of 2015 Panini Copperstown below. 

The below "Etched in Copperstown" inserts have very unique parallels available.  As you can see, the normal silver card has a silver metallic look to them.  The parallels come in different shades, and also can include actual gems embedded within them (diamonds, emeralds or sapphires)

As an example, take a look at the Leo Durocher card below.  It is a Gold Emerald parallel card.  Look closely to the right of the bill of Durocher's cap.  That little green circular thing is a tiny emerald.

Etched in Cooperstown Silver

#16 Don Drysdale                                  #17 Duke Snider

Blog Kiosk: 7/31/2015 - Dodger Links - Friedman, Pablo Fernandez and Kershaw's Ping Pong 4 Purpose


Clayton Kershaw's Ping Pong 4 Purpose charity event last night appears to have been a smashing success.  The ballplayers came out to play, stars were there to lend their support and a bunch of money was raised for a good cause.  Featured in the pic above were probably the two biggest goofballs in attendance.  Via a pic tweeted by Kike Hernandez is Kike with his ping pong partner Ken Jeong.  You can check out more photos from AM570 here.  Via Steve Bourbon at MLB.com:
"It's humbling for us to see the turnout, not to mention we get to raise money for two incredible causes. It's just so cool," Kershaw said. "It keeps getting bigger and bigger every year."

While Kershaw was paramount in organizing the event, he wasn't able to participate in the pingpong competition. Kershaw has a sore hip that caused him to miss his scheduled start on Wednesday.

"I probably could [play], but it's the smart thing to do, as much as I'd like to," Kershaw said. "I'll get to trash talk and watch."
BTW, the duo of Orel Hershiser and actor Josh Henderson won the tournament.  Check out the Kershaw's Challenge website here to learn more.  Below are some links to check out:
"Money factors in, just like players do," Friedman said. "Everything is negotiated. There are times we've given up players, times we've taken on contracts. We have that ability to do that and/or supplement that with players, and that increases the likelihood of getting a deal done. Having that added flexibility increases your chances of [making a deal]."
The Yankees sashayed into free-agent meetings like fat cats, paying big dollars for big names and big splashes. They were old money acting like new money. The Dodgers positioned themselves in diametric opposition, fundamentally against larding their roster with aging players, using their cash as judiciously as the filthy rich can, exploring every creative nook and cranny possible.
It “doesn’t look like we’ll get additional distribution for the Dodgers network this season,” Time Warner Cable CEO Rob Marcus told analysts this morning in a call to discuss Q2 earnings.
"He's got five, maybe six quality pitches and that translates better to starting than relieving," Loons pitching coach Glenn Dishman said. "He was a reliever in Cuba, but in the Majors here they like having a reliever or closer with one or two dominant pitches throwing 100."
  • GCRL, a Dodger collector blog, is calling it quits.  You were one of my favorite daily destinations.
  • With the National Sports Collectors Convention in Chicago in full swing I though I would share the below pic from twitter with you.  It's a display from SCP Auctions of some Don Drysdale items that will be for sale in their upcoming offering.  BTW, I have personally consigned items from my own collection with SCP, so I'll be sure to write about that soon.



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Thursday, July 30, 2015

Welcome to the Blue - Wood, Johnson, Peraza, Avilan and Arroyo! The Trades are Done!

It's done!  It is finally done!

As it turns out, it isn't a 3-way deal after all.  The Dodgers first put together a trade with the Marlins featuring Mat Matos and Michael Morse.  Go here to see my post from yesterday on that one; including some fantasy Baseball cards celebrating the transaction.  The three Dodger prospects going to Miami are Victor Araujo, Jeff Brigham and Kevin Guzman.

The Braves trade (and the purpose of this post) includes eight players changing teams - five of them to Los Angeles.  Per the Dodgers press release:
The Los Angeles Dodgers today acquired left-handed pitcher Alex Wood, right-handed reliever Jim Johnson, left-handed reliever Luis Avilan, minor league infielder Jose Peraza, right-handed pitcher Bronson Arroyo and cash considerations from Atlanta in exchange for infielder Hector Olivera, left-handed reliever Paco Rodriguez and minor league right-handed pitcher Zach Bird.
So, the rumored 2016 draft slot bandied about yesterday plays no part in either the Marlins or Braves trade.  (Apparently, the above is incorrect, or so I've read.  The Dodger press releases made no mention of a 2015 draft pick, and in fact they sent out two separate press releases for the trades - one dealing with Miami and another dealing with Atlanta.  But everyone seems to still be reporting that Atlanta did get Miami's draft pick, so I guess I'll just accept that?)  For some detailed analysis on both trades check out the links below:
Overall, I like what the Dodger front office has done.  They basically traded some lower level prospects including a better than decent Zach Bird, an oft-injured lefty reliever in Paco and a 30-year old Cuban prospect in Olivera (highly touted, mind you, but old) for two starting pitchers who will slot in nicely into our rotation, a nice infield prospect, two relievers and a couple of high dollar'd has-been's.  Basically, we took in a bunch of unwanted contracts to solidify the rotation and bullpen.  Heck, we even got a prospect and a potential right-handed off-the-bench power bat in Morse (he was valuable for the Giants last year).  Although, it does appear likely that Morse and/or Arroyo will be released.

A negative is seeing Paco Rodriguez leave the franchise.  I really liked that kid.  It's also disappointing that we won't have a chance to see that Hector Olivera can do for us.  Nevertheless, we got a whole bunch for very little.  That's assuming you consider the Dodgers spending wads of cash no big deal.

As for not getting a top-line starter like Price or Hamels... Well, I'm a bit disappointed, but not angry.  We probably could've gotten Hamels (considering what they got), but Price ended up being way too expensive.  Detroit made out like a bandit in their trade with Toronto. 

In celebration of the Dodgers adding these five new players (some of whom may never actually wear Dodger Blue) I made the below fantasy Baseball cards in honor.  Check them out below.  I've also included some information about each of them, as well.


Alex Wood is probably the crown jewel of the trade for the Dodgers.  He was basically the staff ace for a bad Braves team, and will fit in nicely in the middle of our rotation.

From the Dodger press release:
Wood, 24, has gone 21-20 with a 3.10 ERA in 86 games (55 starts) in three big league seasons with the Braves, including a 7-6 mark with a 3.54 ERA in 20 starts this year. Since making his big league debut in 2013, Wood ranks among the NL leaders (min. 350.0 IP) in ERA (9th) and strikeout-to-walk ratio (3.12, 15th), while posting a 47.7 groundball percentage and forcing an average of 1.03 groundball double plays per 9.0 innings (4th). The North Carolina native was selected in the second round of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft out of the University of Georgia and quickly ascended to the Majors, while posting a 9-5 record with a 1.68 ERA in 26 minor league starts over three seasons.
Below are Woods's career stats, via Baseball-Reference:



Adding Jim Johnson to the bullpen can only be a good thing.  He's a right-handed reliever with plenty of experience and past success.

From the Dodger press release:
Johnson, 32, has gone 2-3 with nine saves and a 2.25 ERA in 49 games with Atlanta this year in his 10th big league season. The 2012 All-Star and Rolaids Relief Man Award winner has a 25-31 career record with 133 saves and a 3.45 ERA with the Orioles (2006-13), Athletics (2014), Tigers (2014) and Braves (2015). He was one of the American League’s top closers in 2012-13, topping the American League in saves in consecutive seasons and posting back-to-back 50-save seasons with the Orioles. He was originally selected by Baltimore in the fifth round of the 2001 First-Year Player Draft out of Union-Endicott (NY) High School.
Below are Johnson's career stats, via Baseball-Reference:




Luis Avilan is a lefty reliever.

From the Dodger press release:
Avilan, 26, has a 12-5 record with a 2.77 ERA in 218 career games in four big league seasons with Atlanta from 2012-15, limiting opponents to a .225 batting average and posting a 1.16 WHIP. He has appeared in a team-high 50 games this year, going 2-4 with a 3.58 ERA, while limiting opponents to a .245 average. Avilan was signed by the Braves as a free agent in 2005 out of Venezuela.
Below are Avilan's career stats, via Baseball-Reference:


Peraza is probably the best prospect that changed hands (not including the Cuban Hector Olivera).  He's fast and is basically a new version of a young Dee Gordon.  Per Chris Mitchell at FanGraphs:
Peraza excels in the speed and contact departments, but provides very little when it comes hitting for power and drawing walks.
From the Dodger press release:
Peraza, 21, has a .303 career batting average with 203 steals, eight home runs and 178 RBI in 439 games over seven seasons in the Braves’ minor league system, including a .294 mark with 26 stolen bases, three homers and 37 RBI in 96 games this year with Triple-A Gwinnett. Entering the 2015 season, he was rated by Baseball America as the No. 54 overall prospect in baseball after earning selections as a MiLB.com Atlanta organization All-Star in 2013-14 and to the MLB All-Star Futures Game in 2014, when he ranked third among all minor leaguers with 60 steals. He was originally signed by the Braves in 2010 as a free agent out of Venezuela.
Below are Peraza's career stats, via Baseball-Reference:



Not only has Arroyo not ever worn a Braves uniform (he came to them this past June in a salary-dump trade with the Diamondbacks), but he is unlikely to ever wear Dodger Blue either.  Bronson Arroyo is currently on the DL, and has a $4.5Mil buyout on his contract for next season. 

From the Dodger press release:
Arroyo, 38, last pitched on June 15, 2014 before undergoing Tommy John surgery on July 15, 2014. The 2006 All-Star has gone 145-131 with a 4.19 ERA in 405 games (369 starts) in 15 Major League seasons with the Pirates (2000-02), Red Sox (2003-05), Reds (2006-13) and D-backs (2014).
Below are Arroyo's career stats, via Baseball-Reference:


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Angels Series Starts Tomorrow - Scheduled Autograph Sessions, Pregame Info and Other Stuff!


The next homestand starts Friday evening against the Anaheim Angels.  Below are the scheduled autograph opportunities and other odds and ends for this upcoming homestand.

-------------
Friday, July 31st at 7:10 PM
SNLA / AM 570 (Eng.), KTNQ 1020 AM (Span.)

Friday's game starts at 7:10 PM.  Auto gates open at 4:40 PM, and stadium gates open at 5:10 PM. It is Friday Night Fireworks, so fans will be able to go down onto the field after the game to watch the spectacle. The theme will be 80's music.  Go here for information about future firework themes.

Actor Shemar Moore will throw the ceremonial first pitch.

Dodger alumnus Lee Lacy will sign autographs in the left-field plaza from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
  • The Military Heroes of the Game are U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Joshua Rodriguez of Los Angeles and U.S. Air Force Technical Sergeant Joseph Henneman of Toledo, Ohio.
  • The Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation (LADF) conducts silent auctions throughout the season featuring more than 25 signed pieces of memorabilia from Dodger players, coaches and alumni. Auctions will take place behind the Vin Scully press box on the club level. The items up for auction on Friday include a Zack Greinke autographed photo, Howie Kendrick autographed baseball and Joc Pederson autographed Dodger jersey. The auction will end at 8:45 p.m.

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Saturday, August 1st at 1:05 PM
 SNLA / AM 570 (Eng.), KTNQ 1020 AM (Span.)

Saturday's game starts at 4:05 PM.  Auto gates open at 10:40 PM, and stadium gates open at 11:10 PM.  The first 5,000 ticketed kids 5-years old or younger will receive a Dodgers sippy cup.  Check it out on the left.

Actor Frank Grillo will throw the ceremonial first pitch. DJ Adam will provide entertainment in the right-field pavilion plaza, DJ Anthony Valdez will provide music in the left-field reserve plaza and a classic rock band will play in the right-field reserve plaza from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Dodger alumnus Billy Ashley will sign autographs in the left-field plaza from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
  • The Military Heroes of the Game are U.S. Army National Guard Warrant Officer Kyle Brantner of Camarillo and U.S. Air Force Technical Sergeant Brian Huff of Los Angeles.

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Sunday, August 2nd at 1:10 PM
 SNLA/AM 570 (Eng.), KTNQ 1020 AM (Span.)

Sunday's game starts at 1:10 PM.  Auto gates open at 10:40 AM, and stadium gates open at 11:10 AM.  The first 40,000 fans in attendance will receive a Dodgers cap.  See it on the left.

Viva Los Dodgers will be at the historic 76 station at Dodger Stadium starting at 11:10 a.m.  Dodger alumnus and broadcaster Manny Mota will sign autographs for fans from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Musical entertainment will be provided with BB Bronx and Sinverguenza. 

Caroline Wozniacki, professional tennis player, will throw the ceremonial first pitch. Cruel Intentions the musical singers will perform the national anthem.

Dodger alumnus Mickey Hatcher will sign autographs in the left-field pavilion from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
  • The Military Heroes of the Game are U.S. Army E-7 Nicholas Cottrill and U.S. Air Force Staff Sergeant Pastor McGill.
  • The first-ever Dodger Wives Mystery Bag fundraising event benefiting the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation (LADF), will take place when stadium gates open at 11:10 a.m. For a $40 cash donation, fans will get to pick a mystery bag containing an autographed baseball from one of more than 20 Dodger players, coaches and alumni. Several Dodger wives along with LADF staff will be working the sales booths located at the left-field plaza, right-field plaza and the club level by the Vin Scully press box. There are more than 1,400 mystery bags available with baseballs featuring signatures from Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Adrian Gonzalez, Joc Pederson, Kik√© Hernandez, Mark McGwire, Davey Lopes and Steve Yeager, just to name a few.
  • The Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation (LADF) conducts silent auctions throughout the season featuring more than 25 signed pieces of memorabilia from Dodger players, coaches and alumni. Auctions will take place behind the Vin Scully press box on the club level. The items up for auction on Sunday include an Adrian Gonzalez autographed photo, Yasiel Puig autographed baseball and Clayton Kershaw autographed Dodger jersey. The auction will end at 2:45 p.m.

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2015 Panini Cooperstown - The Dodger Base Cards

Panini Baseball card sets are more confusing than a trade with the Dodgers.

Their newest offering, called 2015 Cooperstown, features a 100-card base set filled with nothing but Hall of Famers.  What makes the set confusing is the makeup of the base cards in the set.  Each player has three different base cards available (variations, if you will) and they are all numbered the same, but are considered a part of a different set.

There is the normal base set, a set called "HOF Chronicles," and a third set titled, "HOF Induction."  As for which card belongs to which set... I haven't a clue.  Although, it's easy to guess which ones are likely the "Induction" card based on the photo used on some of them.  Go here for a complete checklist.

As you can see, there seven Dodger players in the set.  You can check out all three of the different variations to the base set below; with exception of a third Lasorda card which I have yet to see. 

#25 Don Drysdale

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